Before it was cool to say "innovative," Sarah Susanka was. She changed what it means to say, "size matters" in housing. Sarah Susanka graciously agreed to be a HIVE dean--advising us on how to bring innovation to housing design challenges and opportunities eight months ago. Rather than simply say she would, Susanka does it.
You see, saying you're innovative, and doing it are two different things in Sarah Susanka's mind, and that's the way she's approached her role as our design dean. It's been a process of discovery, with her, and in her.
"As we started getting into this process, the notion of innovation really began vibrating and now it's at the center of a number of new projects I'm working on," she tells me. "It changes the way you work into a process, and after we started this one, it occurred to me that as much as we talk about innovation, there's still so much of what we do that is so antiquated. We get in our own way when we revert to our old comfortable habits because they've worked before, and we miss this incredible opportunity to put technologies, and insight, and data to work along side our efforts. A lot of us have the lingo, we say we're innovating, and we have an overblown notion of our success.
"But I think we've got a long long way to go before we start doing things that reinvigorate our business. We forget about the upside of innovation, because we're afraid of the downside of its risk.
Susanka's particular focus at HIVE will be on innovation's collaborative essence. One of housing's solvable challenges, we believe, is designing, developing, and building communities that meet the needs of America's swelling tsunami of late- and post-career adults in a fresh, adventurous, economically feasible, and sustainable way. Sarah's intention is to illustrate the wisdom of crowds of collaborators--from technology, from anthropology, from engineering, from design, from healthcare, from consumer insight, from culture, business, and society--in bringing bold light to that solvable challenge in her HIVE session, September 29.
Oddly, she points out, not only is innovation overblown in many of our own minds, it is often misunderstood.
"We think of innovation as exclusively about the future, and truly it's not about going back to the past, but it can be about learning from the past. A past that was lost, but innovation can help find value by connecting people back to things we used to know but have forgotten. People are aware there's a hole in their life, and they don't know whether to use technology to fill it or to put technology down for a moment to fill it. That's where design comes in."
Ancestral knowledge can be where the technology, the algorithms, the physics, and the applied brilliance of today may lead us. That can be innovation. The reason Sarah Susanka, who changed the very notion of scale and transformed what was a mistaken luxury--spaciousness--into a real one--livability, remains innovative is that she does it. She asks, and asks, and asks the question, "how does it feel? does it feel like home to you?" And she designs purposefully to those answers.
We're honored to have Sarah--doing, not just talking about, innovation--at HIVE. Here's where you can register now.